SARATOGA SPRINGS — In honor of the 30th anniversary of the demise of the Berlin wall, Skidmore College faculty members Petra Watzke and Garett Wilson and their students erected a 28-foot-long, 9-foot-tall reconstruction of the Berlin Wall that cuts through a central pedestrian artery on campus. The structure allowed students and members of the campus community to contemplate the legacy of the notorious Cold War barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989.
On Saturday, Nov. 9, Skidmore students and faculty tore down the wall as they paused to remember the historical moment that led to the reunification of Germany.
The wall project was part of Watzke’s course “The Berlin Wall,” which probed the meaning of the wall in German and global history. The project was backed by Skidmore’s IdeaLab, which supports experimental approaches to learning and encourages Skidmore faculty to incorporate skills associated with collaboratively turning ideas into actual creations. The IdeaLab initiative brought Watzke together with Wilson, artistic director in the Department of Theater, who led construction of the wall.
The unique experience was an example of integrative learning at Skidmore, in which students not only read about history, but learn through a hands-on approach involving multiple academic disciplines.